5 Great Recipes of 2012 from an Occasional Cook
Photo by André Baranowski
Confession: jalapeño poppers are one of my favorite foods. Ever. I know, I know, there’s nothing exquisite or refined about them. They’re essentially deep-fried processed junk with an unimpressive, sort-of-spicy, but mostly soggy jalapeño stuffed in there. Normally, I wouldn’t be proclaiming my love for such a pathetic appetizer over the Internet, but this recipe from Saveur is just fancy enough to warrant it. I used fresh jalapeños from our garden, which retained their crispness beautifully, and the cilantro helped pull all the ingredients together into one satisfying bite.
This sandwich is just killer. Granted, I may have burned the first one I ever made (read: why I don’t cook that often), but now that I’ve got it down, I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everyone (or at least, culture readers) knows beets + goat cheese = flavor party in your mouth, but once you add the peppery arugula (plus, you know, buttered, grilled bread) this sandwich becomes salty, spicy, earthy, addictive heaven. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This recipe was so good (and manageable) I made them THREE whole times over the course of the year (seriously, that’s a lot for me). While I dig traditional, beefy burgers, I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good veggie patty. And man, does this one deliver. Earthy, sweet and smoky, the sweet potato mash is crisp on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth smooth on the inside. And the roasted garlic cream? I mean…it’s roasted garlic. Can you really go wrong? I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream there, since it gives a little more of a funky kick.
While my wife and I were on our honeymoon, we stopped at MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine, courtesy of my lovely aunt and uncle. (Okay, that was in 2011, but 2012 does come into play here). We ordered their watermelon and feta salad with pickled red onions to start, and I fell in love. As soon as the next summer rolled around (see? 2012!) I was desperate to recreate the magically simplistic salad. What I came up with was a variation of this Rachel Ray recipe (go ahead, judge me). Instead of creating bite-sized appetizers, I tossed the cubed watermelon with the feta, mint, shallots, pepper, and of course, my beloved pickled red onions.
You guys might remember this recipe from the Facebook and Twitter feeds circa mid-November. As I recall, it was a pretty big hit. Let it be known that I am a huge fan of both starches and cheese, so gratins top my list of practically perfect dishes. I couldn’t let my curiosity about this one go to waste, especially with all you culture fans egging me on with likes, comments, and retweets. So I showed it to my wife, and she immediately volunteered to make it for Thanksgiving. We were not disappointed. The nuttiness of the Gruyere perfectly complemented the fatty oiliness of the melted cheese, heavy cream, and butter (this dish is not for the calorie-conscious), and the parsnips, onion, and garlic had just enough bite to prevent the dish from becoming too rich.
…And now I’m hungry.